Upgrade your Software Experience
Today, software is an integral part of our lives - whether we are working on the web or on a school or business client-server environment that has all of the applications we must use. The following article features ten ways in which you can maximize your software experience, making order out of seeming chaos that can take place in the world of Information Technology:
Install the default version of the application. Unless you have special needs, the default version of the software application should have everything you need. Also, in the download or installation process, the vendor has considered the best way to install the application on your machine, which means better performance.
Install a Start Menu and Desktop Icon. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to locate the program you just installed on your machine! I have seen a few applications get installed into a deep directory within Program Files, and unless there is a Start Menu or Desktop Shortcut Icon, it is practically impossible to find the basic executable file that runs the program.
Select an appropriate DPI on your monitor. Depending upon your particular needs, the DPI setting on your monitor will allow you see all of the options in the application you are running. Novice users usually prefer a smaller DPI, and expert IT personnel usually enjoy a larger DPI, making everything smaller, because then they can see all options in a program, even though the menus and GUI objects are smaller. If you read the documentation for your application, it should tell you the best DPI to select, allowing for best performance.
Register your software program. Whether you have purchased an on-the-shelf product or downloaded an open-source program, register! You will receive important updates and information about the product from the vendor and their efforts to fix any bugs or flaws and releases you can download directly to your computer that will enhance the application's performance.
Skim the documentation and/or bookmark the help file. Nobody is omniscient when it comes to software! Even after having written documentation for over ten (10) years, I still am amazed at some of the designs I have seen by programmers – they all think in unique ways – computer science is NOT mathematics! You will most definitely need to, at some future point, consult the documentation or software's help file. IT companies are always improving their documentation.
Don't be afraid to ask! There are surely other people using the same application, so whether it is through a message board or user-group, you can find answers about the application that will help you to optimize your experience. As I mentioned before, programmers all think differently – so perhaps you can figure out some of their tricks and how that translates to application use, but in other situations, you will optimize your time by asking others who are farther down the rabbit hole.
Optimize your GUI interface. In some applications, there are different ways to configure the appearance on your screen so that you don't have to waste your time clicking through things that you don't use. In Microsoft Word and Open Office Writer there are different toolbars that can be selected and remain open, for example, so that needed buttons can be clicked. Don't worry, your user needs will soon compel you to set this up as soon as possible – no need to pressure here.
Set up Auto-Save. There is nothing more frustrating than losing work! So, see where the application allows you to auto-save your work. I prefer, in Microsoft Word and Open Office Writer to autosave my work every five minutes. Don't worry; the appearing mini-icon will not bother you, because you know that you are preventing yourself from losing future work!
Back-Up Files! I recommend you go out today and get yourself a flash drive of some kind. You may think "oh, I will never lose my work nor will I spill coffee on my laptop." Remember – Murphy's Law has no exceptions. Back-up your work on a regular basis and sleep at night knowing your work is safe.
Send Suggestions to the Software Vendor. If you can possibly do this, e-mail the software vendor of the product you are using to inform them of good and bad points as one of their users. You can praise them on some points and also criticize them on other user-aspects where you have not optimized your performance, or if you simply cannot do something you need to do. They will surely address this issue in some way either in the form of a patch or improved future release.
About the author: Keith Johnson is a Technical Writer from South-Florida with over ten (10) years of experience writing on-line and hard-copy software user manuals. Keith practices affirmations and meditation to stay well - mentally and physically - and has written a book on each of these subjects.